Bent Outta Shape really play with listeners hearts during the first track of their â€œStray Dog Townâ€. At ties sounding like the band will flitter to a close before theyâ€™ve really even gotten stronger, the subdued intensity of â€œDisappointment Rockâ€ really looks back to Paul Westerberg and Rumbleseat. The melodramatic vocals put on the disc are a constant in a time of differing arrangements and staggered arrangements (Greyhound Bus). The fact that a track like â€œGreyhound Busâ€ goes through a number of shape turns really endears the band to listeners; their moves in the space of ninety seconds shows a maturity that is difficult to surpass.What seems to be a major thing holding the disc back from its rightful place in the sun has to be the quick production on the album.
There seems to be a systemic anemia captured on this disc; when a track like â€œTell Me Whyâ€ seems to lack something, there is absolutely nothing wrong on the band side of things. In fact, the music on â€œStray Dog Townâ€ is easily the equivalent of Joe Strummer and Rancidâ€™s best days, but the bandâ€™s struggle with the production really is problematic. Even in its reduced state, each track on â€œStray Dog Townâ€â€ is a masterpiece, a song that is destined for greater radio play. â€œI Donâ€™t Knowâ€ uses a Lars Fredericksen and the Bastards type of vocal inflection with the nuanced arrangement of Jawbreaker or â€œHootennanny-eraâ€ Replacements. The longer runtime of a track like â€œI Donâ€™t Knowâ€ seems to really work in Bent Outta Shapeâ€™s favor, as it really allows them to repeat themselves enough to really insert themselves into listenersâ€™ minds, while appeasing music aficionados with a skilled ear to the arrangements. The bouncy opening to â€œLapdogâ€ is cut down by a more leisurely flow during the trackâ€™s stanzas; much like the related tracks on the disc, the track has enough harmony to cause John Lithgow to step down from eir pulpit and start dancing.
Where it may have been bands like Rumbleseat, Against Me! And Operation: Cliff Clavin to really renovate the genre for the next generation, it took Bent Outta Shape to really come out with something that is a milestone album. There is not a hint of weakness during the discâ€™s 11 tracks: the sing-along style dominant during the album links together some different tracks with a cohesion that all the best albums of the last fifty years â€“ The Clashâ€™s London Calling, for example â€“ had.
Top Tracks: Solitary Now, Greyhound Bus
Bent Outta Shape â€“ Stray Dog Town / 2005 Recess / 11 Tracks / http://www.recessrecords.com / Reviewed 07 October 2005